The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Seeing Past Buzzwords When Looking to Buy

Seeing Past Buzzwords When Looking to Buy - the Twelfth Fret

Seeing Past Buzzwords When Looking to Buy

While attending the 2017 NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show in Anaheim, California recently, I was overwhelmed by the amount of amazing guitars, amplifiers, effects and processors now available. What an exciting time it is for consumers! However, how does one go about choosing a guitar, an amplifier or effects pedals when there’s so much choice and so much marketing buzz competing for your hard earned dollars? This can make it difficult to navigate and equally challenging when trying to make an informed choice – one that works for your exact needs.

Companies use buzzwords or catchy phrases in their marketing to attract consumers. Catchwords such as “analogue”, and “handmade” which I’m certain you’ve heard of already.

Using the example of a delay pedal, many will say “analogue” somewhere on their description. However a true analogue delay would be a large box style tape machine. While this style can sound great they’re not very practical for the average user where space, flexibility and price point is an issue. Many smaller digital delays sound excellent and work well for most people.

The term “handmade” is also frequently heard in marketing. Most truly handmade guitars can offer more customization – with the level of build quality and fine details- have that very personal touch. This also adds a lot to the cost of the instrument and today, there are so many exceptional guitars being made with CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines and top-notch quality control.

Having owned guitars that are both handmade and factory made both are excellent options.

Another common problem arises when amp shopping with marketing phrases like “tube tone”, “digital modelling” and all analogue being thrown around. When shopping for an amp it is most often about choosing the right tools for the right job. If you need to buy an amp and you only require one good sound and something that doesn’t take up much space, then a low wattage small speaker tube amp might be right up your alley. However, if you need or want multiple different sounds and the ability to switch these on the fly, then multiple channel tube amp or digital modelling processors should give you the flexibility you need. Digital modelling has come a long way from its early days and is being used by many touring artists and hobbyists alike.

So, when looking to buy – don’t over think it.

Use your own ears and the advice of the sales experts you trust. Identify which products work for your needs regardless of how they’re made or what buzz-words are being used in the marketing. We’re all trying to get to a similar place of making music whether for fun and personal enjoyment or in a more professional setting.

Mike Gray –


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